When we think of electronic toys, we think of a kid stuck with their nose to the screen of an iPad, or playing games on a parent’s phone. And we might conclude that children would be better of building things out of wood, metal, and cardboard, like we did when we were kids. But getting kids away from those screens is all but impossible.
The Mover Kit, made by U.K.-based Technology Will Save Us (TWSU), is designed to bridge the gap. It detects movement, contains a compass and rainbow lights, and can be programmed by kids via a browser interface.
"The Mover Kit is designed around one core idea," Technology Will Save Us co-founder Bethany Koby says, "children playing and using technology to invent new ways to play."
The kit is a follow-up to the organization's Micro:bit, a pocket sized hacking kit which the BBC gave away to 1 million school kids in the U.K. earlier this year. It bristles with inputs, outputs and sensors, and can be hooked up to all kinds of real-world objects to make guitars, plant-waterers, loudspeaker, or pretty much anything.
The Micro-bit, says Koby, was designed to be used in schools, whereas the Mover Kit is more of a wearable fun machine.
"We discovered, through testing with over 300 kids, that the way children use the product changes completely every time. They immediately start running, jumping, and playing with their friends to bring the kit to life."
Programming is done by hooking the unit up to a computer with a USB cable and then dragging and dropping functions inside a browser interface. Up to three apps can be loaded into the Mover Kit at any time. Then, the unit can be mounted to anything, including a wrist, using a wraparound self-snapping strap.
Just as we explored out own children’s worlds by taking things apart and building new things, today’s kids can learn about the electronic world with projects like those from TWSU. Computer-based devices are usually completely closed. It’s impossible to understand them just by opening them up. Learning how these devices work is "hugely important," says Koby: "Using our kits help kids logically work out the order that they need to do things to successfully solve a problem."
Then, being kids, they’ll start to misuse the kits, and that’s when the good stuff happens. To help with inspiration, TWSU is launching a new Make platform later this year, which will have all kinds of neat project ideas, as well as ideas shared by the community.
Still, if it’s not fun, then even the most curious kids won’t stick around for long. Happily, the Mover Kit looks amazing. And at just $83 for the kit, it’s cheaper than letting your monster smash yet another one of your iPhones.
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